Forty-eight rescued after migrant boat goes down

20th July 2007, Comments 0 comments

20 July 2007, SANTA CRUZ DE TENERIFE - Forty-eight people have been recovered after an air-sea search for 100 Africans whose boat capsized when it was struck by a big wave off the Canary Islands.

20 July 2007

SANTA CRUZ DE TENERIFE - Forty-eight people have been recovered after an air-sea search for 100 Africans whose boat capsized when it was struck by a big wave off the Canary Islands.

The search went on on Friday. Three immigrants were found dead, rescue officials said.

A Spanish rescue ship had approached the open vessel before dawn after it was spotted by a Spanish air force plane some 90 miles (145 kilometers) south of the Canary Island of Tenerife. The Africans were nearing the end of a perilous journey that can take 12 days or more.

The rescuers tried to calm the Africans as the crews prepared to pluck them from the boat in rough seas and gusting winds, said Jose Segura, the Interior Ministry's top official in the islands off northwest Africa.

"Some of them got nervous and started to stand up when suddenly the boat was hit by a wave in the side and they all fell into the water," said Segura. He said the wave was more than 5 meters (16 feet) high.

The rescue crews scrambled to throw into the water anything that would float, Segura said.

More were believed dead. Segura said that survivors told authorities that the dead included women and five members of the same family.

The migrants were coming from the West African country of Guinea-Bissau, according to the survivors, Segura said.

Such incidents in recent years have claimed the lives of hundreds of Africans seeking to escape poverty and reach Europe's southern gateway in search of work and a better life.

In December of last year, at least 80 Africans bound for the Canary Islands died when their boat sank off the coast of Senegal, one of the common points of departure for these trips, according to the Spanish Red Cross.

As recently as Wednesday, two boats carrying would-be migrants sank between Italy and Libya, leaving five people dead, including a child, Italian officials said. Eleven others were missing and presumed dead.

Five merchant ships, two helicopters and a French aircraft carrier, which happened to be in the region, were taking part in Thursday's search efforts off the Canary Islands.

Segura said the 48 rescued were in good health and would be taken to the Canary Islands. They were to arrive in two ships due to arrive later Thursday and Friday. The three dead were brought in by helicopter.

More than 30,000 immigrants from Africa seeking a better life in Europe were intercepted while trying to reach the Canary Islands in crowded boats in 2006.

[Copyright AP with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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